When talking about social determinants, precision matters
Public health experts have aptly expressed concern about the health care industry’s characterization of interventions as addressing “the social determinants of health” and have pointed out the limitations of over-medicalizing individuals’ social needs rather than investing in upstream community interventions. Acknowledging this concern and seeking greater internal consistency, the Health Care Transformation Task Force (the Task Force)—a coalition of payers, purchasers, providers, and patients committed to embracing value-based payment models—offers a framework to describe the distinction among social determinants of health, social risk factors, and social needs in a manner that promotes more precise usage of each term by all health care stakeholders. Clear and consistent terminology is an essential first step to determining what role health care providers and payers can and should play in addressing the underlying factors that influence population health.
Green K, Zook M. When Talking About Social Determinants, Precision Matters. Health Affairs Blog. October 29, 2019. DOI: 10.1377/hblog20191025.776011